Inspiration: Big Trip

14 reasons to ride a Rocket

What I learned travelling the world on a Triumph

Mark Holmes is just back from a 36-nation, 62,000km-ride around the world on his Rocket X. Here are his 14 findings on why the Rocket is a rider’s best friend.

It’s the world’s largest capacity production motorcycle

It can handle any challenge with ease. Its sheer size carried me in armchair-like comfort, absorbing pot holes, hour after hour, purring along.

Weight and size are a big advantage

Other road users spotted me and moved aside. Even drivers in some countries with a less-than-generous attitude to motorcyclists showed me courtesy, often smiling with an admiring glance and receiving a wave from me in return.

Full of heart

A flip of the wrist, in any gear, took me out of harm’s way, beyond belching diesel trucks and onto clean air ahead. You can talk about torque but until you have felt it on the Rocket, you can’t imagine the size of your grin. It’s as big as the engine itself.

The components on a Rocket exist in perfect harmony

The torque is complemented by the wide grip – sometimes you have to hold on tight. The acceleration is complemented by the huge disk brakes – the weight creates extra inertia when trying to stop sharply. The colossal tyres are well balanced with the suspension, traction and low centre of gravity to ensure good adhesion on every corner.

Seeks attention and thrives on it

It’s not a bike for shy retiring types because it draws a crowd wherever it stops. It attracts attention like no other bike I have even ridden or heard about. Even big American cruisers don’t quite match the Rocket X for jaw dropping admiration.

It gains you friends

In almost every country, the Rocket helped me connect with people. It tells them you’re an open character who wants to talk or communicate somehow even if it’s just through a smile.

The authorities just know

Armed police and military who stopped to check my paperwork quickly realised that I was on something a bit special. The paperwork was often dismissed and camera phones whipped out to record the moment a man from somewhere else in the world, on an impossibly large bike, had stopped to make their day.

Proudly British

There’s a black and white corner of the Union Flag on the leading edge of the front mud guard. People noticed that and commented, all over the world. It still carries respect and admiration. Different cultures offered a range of opinions on it, but all were positive.

You’ll find it where roads end

I like cities and people and the roads that connect them but, when the Tarmac stopped, the Rocket X handled all surfaces far exceeding my expectations.

Reliability is its middle name

My plan for dealing with a puncture or breakdown was to flag someone down and ask for help or get to the nearest Triumph dealer. Triumph Jakarta came to the rescue when a blown fuse caused me to overheat in heavy traffic. In the 500 days of my journey, I never had a puncture. The only thing that broke was a spring and even that had a reward in store for me as I had to wait a few days in Rio de Janeiro for the part to arrive, benefitting from some very cordial and generous service from Triumph Rio Barra. Not to mention getting a taste for the rhythm of Rio on Copacabana beach. Oh well.

A beauty and a beast

Rocket owners describe the bike as ’the Beast’ after its size and torque, but more people in the world stopped me to tell me they thought it was beautiful. A Beauty in fact, as well as a Beast.

Likes it hot

Adding or removing layers of clothing to keep me dry or regulate my body temperature was a drag but the Rocket needed no such consideration, handling over 40°C or the heaviest rain imaginable with ease.

Surprisingly nimble

I learned to take a little extra care when coming to a halt, looking ahead to check that I could put both boots down on level ground. Above five miles per hour, the Rocket is as agile as any other bike.

This bike will change your life

I left the UK a very different man. I had lost my business and my wife had died. The Rocket has helped me to start again and I’m now writing a book about my experience called Rebirth.